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Hales: 'Stay angry' about shootings, regulate assault weapons

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said Monday that the Oregon Legislature and Congress should require what he called “common sense” regulations to limit gun violence.

“Every day 33 Americans die from gun violence,” Hales told reporters Monday morning during his first press conference since taking office. “This has gotten away from us.”

As Portlanders mourn the loss of life in the December shootings at Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., “We should also stay angry,” Hales said, and take actions to minimize future loss of life.

Hales is joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition that has grown to include more than 800 mayors. The coalition is urging Congress to require criminal background checks on all gun sales, to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to make gun trafficking a federal crime.

Hales acknowledged there’s little that can be done on the city level.

“There’s not a lot of authority given to cities in the way we regulate our guns,” he said. And even if Portland did enact regulations, their effectiveness would be limited given the number of surrounding cities with different regulations.

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, who attended the press conference, said he agreed with the mayor on the gun regulation issue.

“There are common sense things that we can do at the local level,” Reese said.

However, Reese clarified that later by saying he was referring to the Legislature, not the City Council.

Hales said he opposed proposals by state Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, and others that public school teachers be armed as a way to prevent gun violence in schools.

Teachers have enough duties without adding “target practice” to the list, Hales said. “I have yet to find a teacher who thinks that is a good idea.”

However, he said Portland police will consult with superintendents of Portland’s school districts about ways to beef up security.